The Youth – the Present and the Future of the Cooperative Movement

{posted_on} Aug 21, 2012 Новини

The Youth –  the Present and the Future of the Cooperative Movement

Announced by the United Nations 2012 - International Year of Cooperatives is a significant event in the history of the global cooperative movement, which gives cooperatives an opportunity, through various initiatives, to strengthen the awareness of the society as to the role and importance of the cooperative business model for the economic and social development. However, it is even more important to succeed in finding the right approach to attract and motivate young people, who are to keep alive the "flame" of the cooperative idea and to make the IYC slogan "Cooperative enterprises build a better world" come true.

How would this happen?

The youth are the carrier of creativity, ideas, and innovation that are vitally important for the further successful development of the cooperatives as a democratic, responsible and ethical organisation, but in order to reach their potential they have to be actively involved in the decision making process within the cooperatives.

On this occasion, the Central Cooperative Union, Bulgaria, launched the initiative to host the Youth Cooperative Leaders Forum for the second time, in partnership with Cooperatives Europe - European Region of the International Cooperative Alliance and the European Community of Consumer Cooperatives (EURO COOP). The forum was held on 14 and 15 June 2012 in COOP Kiten Hotel Complex and representatives of 12 European national cooperative organisations took part in it:

Cooperative group - UK

Eleanor Carey - Graduate Projects Officer

Joseph Walker - Graduate Projects Officer

ZDK Germany

Ninetta Schäfer - Lawyer

Cooperative printing company "Eks-skolens Trykkeri", Denmark

Christina Carlson - Graphic Designer

The Federation Serving the Cooperative Housing Movement, Ireland

Dermot Sellars - Policy and Communications Officer

Ammochostou Saving Cooperative, Cyprus

Andreas Vyras  - General Manager

Central Union of Consumer Cooperatives, Moldova

Andrey Andriesh - Director "COOP Advertising"

Yon Juli - Expert "International Affairs and President of Youth Organization"

National Auditing Union of Workers' Cooperatives, Poland

Joanna Widor - HR Specialist

Karolina Rojek - Personal Assistant to the President

Students from Russian University of Cooperatives, Russia

Alexander Samoukin - "Enterprise Management"

Agnessa Mokraia -  "Enterprise Management"

Roman Morozov - "World Economics"

Vadim Gerasimov - "World Economics"

Alexey Matyushin - "Applied informatics in economics"

Viktor Puchkov - "Applied informatics in economics"

Central Union of Consumer Societies, Ukraine

Nazarii Tulika - Director of Department "Organizational and cooperative policy"

Oksana Sukhovetska - Director of Department "Organizational and cooperative policy"

Coompanion, Sweden

Emilia Darsell - Project Advisor 

Jacob Brydolf - Project Manager, Rabash Web and Design Cooperative

National Cooperative Council, Sri Lanka

Dnasekara Bandara - Director "Youth Affairs"

Jayasekara Asanka - Coordinator "Youth Affairs and Media"  

Central Cooperative Union, Bulgaria

Boyka Dobreva - Head "Statistics, analyzes and prognoses" Department

Nevena Bukova - Senior Expert, "International Affairs" General Directorate

Todor Ivanov - Senior Expert, "International Affairs" General Directorate

Magdalina Muneva - Senior Legal Advisor, "Legal" Department

Tihomir Angelov- Senior Expert, "Cooperative Policy" Department

Polina Shishkova - Expert, "International Affairs" General Directorate

Desislava Spasova - Expert, "Tourism" Department

Katya Nikolova - Expert, "PR and advertising" Directorate

Krasimir Ignatov - Manager, Trade center "COOP"

The guests of honour of the Forum:

Klaus Niеderländer - Director, Cooperatives Europe - European Region of ICA 

Ros Tennyson - Independent Consultant, United Kingdom

Mirko Nodari - Communications officer, Cooperatives Europe - European region of ICA

Fran Mccrae - Communications officer, EURO COOP

Evgeni Kuznecov - President, Centrosojuz Russia and member of the Board of the International Cooperative Alliance

Vincenzo Ingraldi - President, Legacoop Trapani Sicily, Italy

Vasil Bukovski - President, Cooperative Union, Burgas

Katya Kirova - President, Consumer Cooperative, Ahtopol


Peter Stefanov - President of the Central Cooperative Union in his address to the participants said „.... we frequently hear the message that young people are our future, but it loses its meaning if they are not also our present. Generations of cooperators have devoted much of their lives to keep the flame of the cooperative idea alive, a significant dividend today, and it is on the youth to invest this dividend prudently and to give their contribution to the sustainable development of the cooperative business, founded on values and principles that have been current for almost two centuries."


What was the objective of the Forum?

Partnership and networking to exchange information, good practices and various forms of online training were the key aspects of the presentations and the fruitful discussions. The creative atmosphere provoked the participants to express their opinion on the various topics actively. Ros Tennyson, an internationally recognised advisor on partnership for leading companies, non-government organisations in various areas of the economic and social life was the keynote speaker, who shared specific examples for partnership building, negotiations and sustainable networks. Using various interactive approaches and role-playing games, the all participants were involved.


What is the direction?

The young people have potential, but to be able to realise it they have to be sufficiently motivated, motivated through work corresponding to their knowledge, which they are interested in and in which they see a development perspective. It is particularly important to create an environment in which they can express their opinion freely and to take responsibility in the process of the management decision making within the cooperatives.

The confidence and aspirations of the young people in building a better world encourage the positive and constructive drives in them, expressed through the seven key messages of the Forum - inspiration, training, decision-making, innovation, collaboration, commitment and action. This is a chance to draw in the generations coming after them.


After the official business sessions, the young people visited the consumer cooperative in the town of Ahtopol, where they were warmly and cheerfully welcomed by Katya Kirova, Chair of the Consumer Cooperative. An unforgettable memory in the hearts of the participants will leave the visit to the historical sights in the Old City in Sozopol, the sports games and entertainment, the evenings of friendship and amity.

      Resolutions, passed by the participants in the Youth Cooperative Leaders Forum - 14-15 June 2012,"COOP KITEN", Bulgaria


1. The main menu "Policy topics" on the website of Cooperatives Europe - European Region of ICA should include a sub-menu "Youth policy" and an online forum for exchange of information and good practices in the development of the European and global cooperative movement have to be established.


2. The representation of the cooperative movement in projects funded by the European Union in the area of youth policies is to be encouraged, for example the "Youth in Action" Programme.

How can reach out to youth?

„...Cooperatives can reach out to youth in a multitude of ways. First, cooperatives are a source of sustainable, long- term employment.  Cooperatives offer a chance to develop professional skills. Cooperatives are also connecting young people through new communication tools - Facebook, Twitter, You tube..." 

                           Rodrigo Gouveia,

                           Secretary General, EUROCOOP



Why is the attention of Cooperatives Europe - European Region of ICA focused on the youth?

„....Young people in Europe have the energy and ability to adapt quickly to the new challenges. Attracting them to the cooperatives, we will ensure that the cooperative movement in Europe will stay "young" and "vigorous" forever. Let us commit and encourage them so that young cooperators in Europe to speak in one voice ..."

Klaus Niеderländer - Director, Cooperatives Europe - European Region of ICA